To me, summer means two main eating options: Mediterranean cuisine (in all its astounding variety) and ice cream. Here are 3 recipes from Italy, Spain, and Turkey that make the most of summer flavors and produce. Afterward, you can go out for two scoops with sprinkles.
I discovered red gazpacho’s elegant, sweeter sister on a trip to Andalusia 10 years ago, and I now make it a couple of times each summer. It’s perfect as either an appetizer or lunch dish; to add heft, top with poached shrimp or scallops.
1 large garlic clove, peeled
5 cups roughly chopped seedless cucumber (from about 2 1/2 large whole cucumbers), plus 1/4 cup diced cucumber for garnish
1 1/4 cups whole green grapes, plus 1/4 cup diced grapes for garnish
3/4 cup Marcona almonds
3 cups diced white bread, crusts removed
4 scallions, white and tender green parts, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup packed watercress leaves
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Boil the garlic clove for 10 minutes, then drain.
2. In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic with 5 cups cucumber, 1 1/4 cups grapes, 1/2 cup almonds, plus the bread cubes, scallions, watercress, water, olive oil, and sherry vinegar until smooth. Add more water if too thick. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste (if the almonds are very salty, you won’t need much additional salt.)
3. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
4. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup almonds. Stir the gazpacho, then pour it into shallow bowls. Garnishwith the chopped cucumber, grapes, and almonds.
Adapted from Food and Wine
GRILLED ZUCCHINI AMALFI-STYLE WITH GARLIC, MINT, AND VINEGAR
This is a Marcella Hazan standby (for anyone not familiar with Marcella, whatever you might know about Italian cooking probably traces in some way back to her), redolent of mint, one of my favorite summertime scents. It’s a great side dish to any protein, and also delicious on sandwiches.
2 lbs. zucchini or summer squash
4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1/4 cup mint, torn into pieces by hand
About 3 tbsp. white wine or sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into pieces about 1/4-inch thick. Lightly brush with olive oil.
2. Add the garlic and mint to a large, shallow bowl or platter.
3. Grill the zucchini (you can use a charcoal grill, gas grill, or stovetop grill pan), flipping each slice after a couple of minutes (once you see some nice char marks).
4. As the zucchini come off the grill, place into the bowl with the mint, and add a few drops of vinegar. As you add more zucchini, sprinkle on more vinegar.
5. Once all the zucchini are done, add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve at room temperature, and refrigerate any leftovers for next-day sandwiches.
Adapted from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen
This Turkish dish, often part of a meze spread, translates as the imam swooned. Presumably, we imagine, because of the incredible dish he’d just tasted.
6 slender, firm eggplants (about 2 lbs.)
4 medium, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
About 2/3 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. lightly toasted pine nuts
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large Dutch oven or other sturdy pan and sear as many eggplant halves as can fit in the pan until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add fresh oil with each batch. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
3. Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil to the same pan and sauté the onions and garlic until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan, place in a bowl, and add the tomatoes, parsley, sugar, and salt to taste.
4. Arrange the eggplant halves in one layer in a baking dish. Spoon the onion-tomato mixture over the top, working some into the slits. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp. oil over the top. Cover and bake for about 35 minutes, checking to make sure the eggplants are not getting dried out.
5. Cool the eggplant to room temperature. Transfer the eggplants to a serving platter, spoon the sauce around them, and sprinkle with pine nuts and additional parsley. Squeeze some of the lemon juice on top, to taste. Serve garnished with additional lemon wedges.